Tag Archives: outdoor family

Feeling at home in Nicaragua

…and now we have to pack up Casa Ranita & leave

Our time in Granada, Nicaragua is soon coming to an end. Right now we are all really settled in and not looking forward to leaving our little house and all our new friends. Its been amazing to see how quickly Ingrid and Scott both got into their new school life and the normality and familiarity of it all. In many ways it feels just like home.

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Our lovely little 2 bed house in Granada Nicaragua, Casa Ranita

Our Typical day in Granada, Nicaragua

A typical weekday here is not that dissimilar to a day back in the UK.

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Early morning run up to Laguna de Apoyo

Paul and I typically wake up at sunrise around 5.30-6 am. I have a coffee while reading emails and do some travel research while Paul goes for a run before the sun is up and it gets too hot. At 6.30 I wake the kids then we all have breakfast and leave the house about 7.30 for the 2km walk to school which starts at 8.

At this time of day the sun is still low in the sky and the streets are pretty empty. We all really enjoy the the walk along the Calzada and across the main square to get there.

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Our house is at the end of the Calzada in Granada so this is where our walk to school starts
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The Parque central is quiet at this time in the morinng
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We love walking past all the colourful houses on the way to school
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Scott and Ingrids schools are right next to Iglesia Xalteva

Usually I part with Paul and the kids halfway there to head off for a quick coffee before I go to Casa Nica for my 2hr Spanish class.

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Cafe Bristol makes the cheapest and best hot of iced latte in Granada
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Catching up on homework before class
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This is my Spanish school

A lovely school experience in Nicaragua

Already on day one Scott was excited about going to school and making new friends and he has enjoyed going there every day since. The school is bilingual and half the class is made up of Nica children and the other half expat kids who mainly speak English. Its been wonderful for all of us to have the school experience for a month and to meet and get to know the teachers, children and and parents who have been travelling like us and those live here. It was hard to find a school that would accept us for 1 months only, which I wrote about in a previous post, but it one of the best things we have done on this trip so far.

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Sancuanjoche International School – Pre-school

Scotts typical school day in Nicaragua

Scotts school day starts with circle time and Spanish, followed by motor skills, snack & play in the park. After a play outside they focus on social development in Spanish then maths. School lunch is served at 11.30 and Scott loves it!  At the end of the day they do science and play.

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Typical daily schedule for Scott

Scott really enjoys school here and have made so many new friends both with Nica and English speaking children. There are 12 to a class and they all mix  the Spanish & English speakers during breaks to encourage them to practice the other language. His best friends are 2 girls, Brissa a local Nica girl and Gekko, an American girl from Texas.

They hang out every day playing mums and dads, zombies, tag and lots of other crazy games. Last week he went to his first Nica birthday party complete with piñata, clowns, cakes, ice cream and the best party bags ever!

Ingrid also loves school in Nicaragua

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Ingrid happily heading intoschool

Ingrid has made some great friends too, but I think she enjoys access to the school library more than anything else. Every day she gets through 2-3 new books which she reads at home and in reading class and any other free moment at school.

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Ingrids schedule

She is doing great it both English and Maths and is studying both of these with the older children in year 4-5. Spanish is the hard one as she is far behind the rest of the class. However, they have a great system where the other children in her class takes turns helping her translate, read and write in Spanish class so although its a bit more difficult, she is picking it up slowly and its still something she enjoys.

Science is taught with much debate and discussion here, right up Ingrid street. She comes home everyday with new ideas, telling us about all the fun discussions they have had in science class that day. Best of all, she got to see all other kids present their science projects at the school science fair, which she loved. We usually see Ingrids class head back from the park after lunch when we pick Scotty up at 1.

My typical day and Nicaraguan routine

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While the kids are in school, I am in school too enjoying 1-1 lesson with a young Nica girl called Rebecca. The lessons are a mix of slow conversations, grammar run throughs, quiz games and picture cards to practice vocabulary and conversation.

I am by no means fluent yet but have come a long way with a wider vocabulary and the basic grammar and conversations with Rebecca. On the way home I get fresh fruit, vegetables and chiceron from the market.

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Pauls typical day

Meanwhile Paul is deep into catching up on all our admin, planning our next stage of travel and our return to the UK in July. He also goes to the big supermarket at the edge of town to buy the basic groceries.

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Sometimes we have some lunch in one of our favourite spots before picking up Scott at 1. Most of the time though we cook lunch at home after collecting Scott from school. Our favourite food to cook for lunch here is plantain with cheese, nachos and guacamole.

The 2km walk home from school with Scott usually takes up to 1 hour and I love it. There is no stress no reason to hurry him along, we just wander together take in the sights and chat about the day.

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Walking home from school with Scott

After school…lazy afternoons avoiding the heat

After picking Ingrid up at 3, we spend the afternoons in a similar way to what we would do at home. Ingrid typically gets a book out and chills on the bed while Scott plays with his toys or helps me prepare dinner.

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LEGO!
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We  cook all the food from scratch and get the ingredients from the local market

One of his favourite past time these days is helping round he house, either cooking, mopping the floors or doing the washing up. At mealtimes we all help out either setting up and cooking or washing up and tidying up. After some initial resistance, now it all happens without complaints at every meal time.

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Washing up after dinner, Scott loves it and Ingrid hates it

Occasionally we have a playdate after school either at our house or at friends and sometimes later in the afternoon once the temperature starts to drop we go for a walk on the Calzada or head down to the park for a play.

One of the things we love about staying here is all the friends we have made. After 8 months of mostly playing with each other Scott & Ingrid both enjoy the break from each other.In fact we all do!

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Scott and Geco playing lego after school
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Evening stroll

In addition to helping with meals, Scott has to read a book everyday and Ingrid does touch typing and updates her diary. Once all of that it done, the kids watch something on the laptop or play mine craft with Paul, while I do some work on the iPad. Early bed for an early start.

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Ingrid and Scott playing minecraft

After sunset all the locals sit in the cooler air on the street outside their houses enjoying the free light (electricity is very expensive here) and animated conversation. Our neighbour Freddy often invites me to sit down and join them for a chat. A great way to practice my newly acquires Spanish and to get to know the people and the community a bit better. Its a lovely way to spend the evening.

Weekends in Granada, volcanoes and play

The weekends are also very much like our weekends at home. Paul goes out at 5am with a running group while the kids and I have a lazy morning. Ingrid makes pancakes then we do bits and bobs round the house, lego, a creative project, some mine craft.

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Ingrids delicious pancakes

In the afternoon we go exploring, head to the park down by the lake or go for an ice cream.

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There are lots of climbing frames down by the lake, this one has the best monkey bars

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Sunday lunchtime down by lake Nicaragua is full of music and local families hanging out

Sundays are our typical day trip days with visits to volcanoes, museums etc. Our favourite spot so far is Laguna de Apoyo, the volcano crater lake, we you can go swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding in lovely clean and fresh water.

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Paddle boarding with Ingrid at Laguna de Apoyo
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Sunset at the Treehouse outside Granada
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Amazing lava at Masaya Volcano!! So close you can feel the heat!
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Fresh water swimming pool, by Mombacho volcano

Just like home….enjoying the simple things

So, with the exception of adapting the time of our activities to the hot climate here, our days are very similar to many days back home in London. After 8 months of being together 24/7 it is nice to have some time without the kids where we can get on with our plans and think about our return to the UK. Usually this is something we can only really do before the kids wake up or after they go to bed.  When travelling is quite hard to find enough time to get it all done.

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Sunset over Catedral de Granada
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Evening at Iglesia Guadalupe, right next to our house.

We would all be happy to stay here longer, in fact we have talked about it. The town, the country and people are very easy to get on with and to enjoy. Its been nice having the space to be able to do separate things. So far on our travels we have spent most nights together in 1 little room all going to bed and waking up at the same time. The simple pleasure of being able to go to bed and get up at different times, cook if and whenever we want to and even do separate things during the day is not to be take for granted.

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Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the world where horse and cart is most often used for transport and work.

There is a great local and expat community with plenty of opportunity to make a real impact in Nicaragua together with the locals. In the end, we have decided to continue to the coast for a few days of surfing before a quick stop with friends in Miami then onwards and upwards to Peru.

We’re thinking that we could always come back to Nicaragua sometime after our round the world trip!

Heads in the clouds – Family trek Poon hill, Nepal

Poon hill trek – a child friendly classic Nepal trek

Ghorepani Poon hill trek is one of the short trekking routes in the Annapurna region that can be done in 3-5 days. After some research we decided this would be the best route for us. It is long enough for Paul and me to enjoy, at 3210m, the altitude in not too high for the kids, and if done in 5 days we were hoping the daily treks would be short enough for Ingrid 8, to be able walk all they way.

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Ingrid feeling excited to start our 5 day trek in the Annapurnas

Over 5 days, this trail takes you through beautiful local villages and rhododendron forests with panoramic views of Nepal’s most famous peaks from Poon Hill – Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri and Annapurna South. The trail can be congested in high season October – February, but was almost empty when we were there in August, at the end of the monsoon season.

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Poon hill trek map

Its a 1hr drive from Pokhara to Nayapul, the starting point of the trek. From there you make a circuit over 5 days from Nayapul to Hille (near Tikhedunga), then Ghorepani and Poon Hill followed by Ghandruk and Landing before finally returning to Nayapul and Pokhara.

Basket case solved – gaffa tape saves the day!

In order for us all to enjoy this trek, the most important thing we had to consider was how to keep Scott happy and motivated to walk as much as possible. Scott is physically strong and usually happy to walk for about an hour or so most days. Unfortunately, just before starting the trek he was really ill for a week with a tummy bug and had to take 2 course of antibiotics to recover. Needless to say, we were a bit were worried about how he would cope in the hills after being so poorly.

In planning or trip to Nepal, we had already considered getting a porter to help Scott round the trail and with the recent tummy bug illness we decided at the trip could only be done with a porter that could help us carry Scott all the way round the trail.

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Our trekking team, Trunkie, Eddi. me, Ingrid, Paul, Scott and Dpak

We booked our team consisting of 1 guide and 2 sherpas, through Funnys travel in Kathmandu. 1 sherpa would carry our big backpack and 1 would carry Scott in a traditional Nepalese basket.

As we arrived in Nayapul, ready to head off it became clear that the typical basket we had agreed that Scott would be carried in did not exist. The guide and sherpas suggested they could carry Scott on their back and shoulders for 5 days, which was not what we had agreed nor would it be safe or comfortable. We watched in disbelief as the team set about constructing a make due carrier basket, which promptly broke.  Without a safe carrier construction for Scott we would have to go back to Pokhara and try again in a few days once it had been sorted out to our satisfaction……not ideal.

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Kids carrier Nepali style that did not work

Its amazing what you can do with a pocket knife and some gaffa tape.  Paul finally took charge, bought another basket and made a safe, comfortable and strong carrier with gaffa tape, some rope and a bit of insulation material ….finally 2 hrs later we were ready to go.    

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Solid child carrier construction made with a traditional Nepalese basket

Day 1 – Up, up and away

We started our first walk up from Nayapul to Ghorepan on a trail initially made up of an old gravel road. Eventually we were crossing streams, passing rice paddies and teahouses on lingering stony path that slowly took us up higher in the mountains into slightly cooler and more manageable temperatures.

It was not a difficult walk but the very hot and humid weather made it hard work still. Scotty was in the basket most of the time, snoozing while Ingrid walked every step with a smile on her face. She had been looking forward to this trek for a long time and was happy to finally be on our way.

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Sherpa carried Scott in a basket when he got tired

Finally after 5hrs walking, at Ingrid pace, we were pleasantly surprised to find our accommodation for the night. A large and clean teahouse with comfortable beds in twin rooms with delicious food on  offer.

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Lovely teahouse for our first nights stay

After a quick dinner and some games with our sherpas we called it a night getting to get some sleep in preparation for the early start and long trek the following day.

Day 2 – Stairway to heaven,  4080 steps to be exact

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Donkey trail passing by as we were having breakfast

After a good night sleep and and eggs and pancakes for breakfast we set off on 8hrs relentless climbing 4080 steps, 1300m elevation. to Ghorepani. Thankfully it was overcast most of the day and we all felt strong and excited to climbing up ever higher and higher in the mountains into the cooler air and the lingering clouds.

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Typical bridge crossing along the Poon hill trail
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Excited to be above the clouds after climbing 4000 giant steps to get there

After enjoying a typical vegetable Thali lunch and a couple of tea breaks along the way we finally arrived at our overnight stay in Ghorepani, 500m below the peak of Poon hill. A lovely warming wood burner at the centre of the common space in this teahouse made it a lovely and cosy place to hangout and a good spot to dry damp socks and shoes. We were all exhausted after the 8hr trek and had a very early night.

Day 3 – Above the clouds at the break of dawn

Ingrid and Paul had decided to climb to the Poon hill peak to catch the sun rise over the mighty Annapurnas.

They set off at 4 pm in the dark with puffer jackets and head torches while Scott got some more sleep and rest ahead of the days longish walk. The climb to the top in the dark took about an hour.

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Moment of glory at the top of Poon hill
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Vire of fishtail in the Annapurnas from the top of Poon hill

After watching the sure rise we all had a breakfast together, chocolate pancakes and eggs.  A quick rest and then we set off on a 7 hr walk up and down on winding trails through the clouds forest.

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Enter a captionScott having a sleep in the basket
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One of Scotts many walks during the 5 day trek

After a tea break and then lunch in a beautiful spot along the river we had to get raincoats and umbrellas out for the last hour walk to our over night stay number 3 at Ghandruk.

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Sleeping in the rain in the comfort of his basket

Wet leaves and vegetation meant leeches were out and about. There are lots of warnings about leeches on the trails in August in the guide books and on the internet. However, we found the leeches to be few and far between, very small and pretty harmless. Once we found them on us they were easy enough to flick off without causing much pain or discomfort. Scott was actually very excited to find one inside his trousers. Must have got there during a pee break.

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Tanipani teahouse, our least favourite

The over night stay in Tanipani, was our least favourite.  Dirty and smelly toilets in the teahouse and a pretty rough restaurant made us all a bit uneasy. We were too tired from walking to think too much about it and enjoyed clear views on the Annapurnas when we woke up the next day.

Day 4 & 5 all downhill from here

Our first clear view of the snowcapped Annapurna range at the breakfast table at Tanipani gave us the energy we needed to walk the days trek 5 hrs downhill. Trails were wet and slippery after a rainy night but Ingrid did great and Scott walked his longest distance so far despite a big leech bite on his leg. We enjoyed a slow lunch at a beautiful village of Thadipani on the way down.

Beautiful scenery and coours along the

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beautiful scenery and colours along the Poon hill trial
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Going down hill is also hard work

Our last days walk down to Nayapul was our least favourite. Part of the trail was along the main dirt road through some larger villages with a lot more people and even cars along part of the way. Typically this was the day with the best view of the mountains. What a great way to end  this amazing 5 day trek!

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One of many streams we had to cross
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Great view on the last day of our trek

Poon Hill  – a great trek for mountain lovers with kids

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Yey we did it and we enjoyed it too!

The Ghorepani Poon hill trek is not the most adventurous mountain experience if on your own, but with 2 young kids in tow is a great mix of hard walks on easy trails broken up by tea and lunch breaks along the way. The walk itself is interesting as it follows part of the old Trans-Himalayan Salt Trade Route.

Most of the the trail is made up stone slabs and staircases that head from village to village and some of the time you walk on simple trails and across small streams and through rain forest like foilage.

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We quickly slipped into a pleasant rhythm of eating, walking, eating, playing cards, drinking tea and sleeping.

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Tiebetan bread, one of the kids favourite breakfasts

We all loved the trek, Ingrid especially and have since also done long treks in China, Thailand and rock climbing in China, Thailand and Vietnam. As we continue down to South America we have our harts set on more fantastic treks.

Good to know about Poon hill trek

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Our last overnight stay on out 5 day trek
  • Poon Hill trek can easily be done without a guide just following a good map. Also, in high season there are lots of other trekkers on the trail that are all going the same way. If we had done this trail without the children, we would have done it alone. As this was our first big adventure in he mountains with the kids we felt safer having a guide with us.

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  • Packing is simple, since you don’t need to carry tents, sleeping bags, or food but can enjoy sleeping and eating in one of many lovely teahouses along the way. We packed 1 large backpack with a change of clothes, micro towels, silk liners, games and electronic essentials that the sherpa carried and a smaller day pack with water, snacks and raincoats, which we took turns carrying. We left our big bags at our hotel in Pokhara as we would return tenth same hotel after the trek.

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  • There are plenty of teahouses along the way of Poon Hill trek where you can stop for food and drinks and to stay over night. The overnight teahouses are like simple, clean guesthouses with basic beds and food on offer. Some of the smaller teahouses along the way just offering tea, coffee, drinks and snacks.
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Typical Nepali lunch vegetarian Thali
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Typical teahouse accommodation on offer when you do the Poon hill trek
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Enjoying a tea break along the Poon hill trail
  • August is the end of the monsoon season in Nepal. While on the trail we had rain most nights night and 2 days with half hour long showers. We also had leeches, and some cloudy days. However, if you want enjoy the quiet time in the mountains,  walk at your own pace and if a bit of rain down not bother you then end August is a good time to go.

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If you like walking in the mountains and want to introduce your children to this fantastic adventure then Nepal & Poon hill is the way to go!